Father’s Day slipped up on me this year. No, I didn’t forget to call my dad and share a few minutes on the phone with him. And I’ll see him sometime in the next few weeks when I head to DeLand for vacation.
But I usually like to honor all the dads out there with some thoughts in this column. Since I believe that every day should be one that we honor and pay tribute to our dads, it’s not too late to wish all the dads, step-dads and surrogate dads out there all the best.
I love watching our local coaches as they coach their sons and daughters. There is something special about watching the bond between parent and child strengthen on a baseball diamond, football field or basketball court.
For many of us, our dad was our first coach who taught us the finer points of the sports we love today. Maybe he didn’t get it right all the time, but he tried to teach us the basics. If we were lucky, our dad was even more interested in teaching us the basic skills needed to succeed in life.
When we were kids, I doubt many of us understood how tired our dad was after work, when he took time to play catch with us in the backyard before supper. I can think of better ways for a father to spend his time than coaching Little League baseball, YMCA basketball or Pop Warner football.
Through the years, my dad coached dozens of other boys on countless teams, just as many of your dads have done. I’m sure many of you share similar memories of an old duffel bag used to hold baseball bats, balls and the catcher’s equipment of shin guards, a chest protector and mask.
That bag of baseball stuff stayed in the trunk of Dad’s car so he would have it if he was running late to practice or a game.
My dad grew up in the 1930s and 40s, when baseball gloves were primitive even by the standards of the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe that’s why he always insisted on his players catching the ball with two hands.
More than 40 years after he coached my last Little League game, I can still hear Dad shouting, “If the good Lord had meant for you to catch a ball with one hand, he wouldn’t have given you the other one.”
Whether your dad is 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-8, when you were in the first or second grade, he seemed 10 feet tall. I hope you had a good enough relationship with your dad that you tried to walk in his stride or try his shoes on for size.
My dad would tell me that I might get to be 6-foot-6 and weigh 280 pounds, but I’d never be able to whip him. I never made it to 6 feet, but I have tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds, and Dad is now a feeble old man. I want to believe that he can still whip me and that those strong arms that once carried me can still handle his share of the load.
Dad’s health is failing now, and I’m surprised and thankful he was still around to celebrate Father’s Day 2013. There’s a good chance he won’t be around for next Father’s Day or even for his birthday in late October.
I celebrate Father’s Day every day now. I call Dad each day to tell him how much I love him. I know we will never play another game of catch or shoot baskets again on an old asphalt basketball court, but it doesn’t matter.
Each day remains a gift to share a laugh or just to remember while strengthening a bond that only a dad and his boy can know.
It may not be Father’s Day, but call your dad. You’ll be glad you did.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.